In the wake of Barry Eisler’s surprising revelation that he turned down a $500,000 publishing offer in order to self-publish (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html) came the little tidbit that Amanda Hocking is thisclose to signing a $1,000,000+ deal for a 4-book series with a traditional publisher (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/noted-self-publisher-may-be-close-to-a-book-deal/). Some of you might wonder: what the heck is going on here?
It seems to me like all this commotion illustrates what a transitional state publishing is in right now. Here’s what we know about the industry:
- Print sales are decreasing, and are bound to continue doing so given the closing of many bookstores (Borders bk) and the alleged scaling down of available space in others (Barnes & Noble).
- Electronic sales are skyrocketing and all signs point to that trend continuing.
So what does this mean for the new or aspiring author?
In the past most authors strived to be traditionally published. Digital publishing, when it came around, was either something for the niche market or else a stop for the author on the train of hope to the NY publishers. Things are changing. With electronic sales skyrocketing and e-publishers offering authors better deals for e-books than traditional publishers (35-40% royalty vs. 25% royalty), writers are starting to wonder whether that big NY contract is all it used to be. Now, with the increasing popularity of self-publishing (70% royalty on Amazon for books $2.99+), writers are starting to wonder whether a publisher is necessary at all.
It’s my personal opinion that the enterprising author will diversify herself. It’s difficult to ignore the print market, with print books still making up approx. 70% of sales. And I don’t know about you, but I’d still like to see my book on the bookshelf of my local bookstore (provided there still is one in a few years. ) But at the same time, it doesn’t seem prudent to dig your head in the sand and pretend like the digital revolution isn’t going on right now in front of our very eyes. Writers who try to ignore that may find themselves in a world of financial pain.
With the Eisler and Hocking news, I have to wonder too: is the grass always greener? Each of these fabulous authors knows exactly what it’s like to be in the position they are in. They want to experience the other side of the equation. Pure human nature. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out. Will Eisler stay self-published? Will Hocking find a home in the traditional publishing market?
I guess only time will tell.
Your turn to spill. What are your thoughts on the industry shake-up and the self-publishing explosion?